Monday, February 26, 2018

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel Reflects on Florida School Shooting

Broward County Scott Israel on the Florida School Shooting

As facts began to show that local law enforcement ignored many red flags about Nikolas Cruz (including 36 police contacts about him) and Broward County did nothing before the atrocity, Sheriff Israel sought to deflect responsibility. Sheriff Israel had no qualms about throwing the School Resource Officer under the bus for not engaging and killing  the shooter.  But as hard questions about the performance of his office were raised, Sheriff Israel refused to take responsibility.

Sheriff Israel's strident face saving, however,  may well have inhibited the seemingly bullet proof push for stringent gun control measures imposed in reaction to the Stoneman Douglass High School shooting.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes: "The media is dead"

House Inteilligence Chair Devin Nunes notes that FISA-gate shows that the media is dead

Monday, February 19, 2018

Zachary Taylor on the Presidency

President Zachary Taylor on the Presidency

Even though it's really Washington's Birthday (observed), most people refer to this federal holiday as President's Day.  

Some Presidents, like James K. Polk or Franklin Pierce, barely pierce the collective mind.  Others may feel strongly that the elected official is "Not MY President".  However, Zachary Taylor, the twelfth US President, strongly rebuked this ideation.

Revisiting What the Hail?

Fergie's faux pas rendition of the National Anthem at the 2018 NBA All Star Game revived a simmering controversy about performing the Star Spangled Banner. Wags on social media contend that Fergie's sultry stylings declared war against the National Anthem and was the worst ever. 

Obviously they have forgotten Roseanne Barr’s 1990 San Diego Padre’s atrocity of an anthem, which was more unfunny performance art than honoring our Nation.

Christina Aguilera’s performance of the National Anthem at Superbowl XLV was marred by a lyric malfunction. The pop star botched the ramparts verse and instead sang “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last gleaming”.  This echoed a prior line, which she also flubbed. 

Aside from the lyrical miscued, Aguilera tried switching up the melodies a couple of time, to less successful effect than Whitney Houston at Superbowl XXV. Houston managed to put the Star Spangled Banner back on the Billboard charts. 


Personally, I was watching in a boisterous space where viewers were more capable of witnessing how adeptly Aguilera’s wardrobe covered her tattoos. One can surmise that  Aguilera was quite nervous, as some of her prior renditions of the Star Spangled Banner at sporting events were outstanding.  And it seems that she was concentrated more on changing the melody than on the lyrics.

Our crowd cheered along with the crowd in Dallas when the video feed switched to our troops serving in Afghanistan.  As I rewatched the video, I noticed the shot of Pittsburg Steelers Cornerback William Gay chocked up with emotion during the National Anthem.

Even spirited and heart felt renditions of the National Anthem can cause controversy, as Jose Feliciano’s rendition during game 5 of the 1968 World Series in Detroit did, or Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar version at Woodstock in 1969.

Lyrically, Francis Scott Key’s poetic magnus opus is poignant, but he conveniently set it to “To Anacreon in Heaven”, an English pub song used as a sobriety test. For me, the only more testing melodic line in America's songbook standard is the genius who set Happy Birthday to the children's song  "Good Morning to All" from 1893.

Nevertheless, the Star Spangled Banner means something for most Americans. That explains egregious expressions and politicizing of the National Anthem seems to strike such deep chords. The NFL television ratings are markedly down as players Taking a Knee during the National Anthem, which many link to patriotic fans protesting and the League repeatedly allowed this perceived disrespect. 

[This piece was originally published on DCBarroco.US but updated after aesthetic outrages]

Clarence Thomas on Victim Culture

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on Victim Culture

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mika Brzezinski on Talking About Gun Control Immediately After the Florida School Shooting

Mika Brzezinski on Talking About Gun Control Immediately After the Florida School Shooting

Less than a day after the Parkland Florida School Massacre, in which at least 17 people were killed, MSNBC Anchor Mika Brezinski was insistent about having constructive talk about solutions.  Considering the midtown Manhattan mores of the mainstream media, this mean venting about gun control. Brzezinski threatened to unbook any guests on the Morning Joe who wanted to defer this constructive talk to either wait for confirmed details or out of respect for the victims' families. 

It is natural as members of the media cover this travesty live, they will opine supposed "answers" to make sense of the mire.On Fox News, conservative Sean Hannity got on his hobby horse for his entire hour in prime time to push for all schools to hire armed veterans for school security. For cash strapped districts, a guest suggested having federalized security, like the TSA.  The morning after the Parkland School Shooting, Salem Radio's centrist Republican Hugh Hewitt wondered why there was not a "No Buy List" for mentally troubled individuals. While that touches on the mental health aspect, it raises issues about an over expansive no-buy list, as Obamacare barred many Veterans diagnosed with PTSD from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Although there are many indications that the shooter had a troubled teen with many mental illness markers, inevitably the knee jerk reaction for this so called "constructive talk"  will be a gun grab or advocating measures like a better background check (which have already been instituted).

Just as reality shows are somewhat scripted, Morning Joe is positioned to proffer reliable perspectives. Mika's booking benchmark shows how progressive will not let a good crisis to go to waste to grab guns.

Susan B. Anthony on Women

Susan B. Anthony on Women

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

About Senator Joe Manchin and a Victory for the Swamp

Larry O'Connor a Joe Manchin and a Victory for the Swamp

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been representing West Virginia in the Senate since the death of Senator Robert Byrd in 2010.  Manchin ran on a pledge protect Second Amendment rights as well as to to take dead aim of Barack Obama's Cap and Trade policy, which severely threatened the coal industry.  

While he may call himself a centrist or perhaps a conservative Democrat, in modern terms he ran as a Republican.  But now Mountain State voters may well wonder if Manchin was just blowing smoke around election season.

As Manchin vies for a second full term, he is considered the most vulnerable Senate incumbent for Election 20118.  Manchin's refusal to drift to the left endangers himself with the progressive drift of Democrats, yet he is chary about crossing the aisle to the Republican side.

So in a bid to save his seat, Senator Manchin took the the Senate floor to promote a pledge of bipartisan cooperation and agreement.  While that sounds noble and constructive, the reality is that Manchin was coercing his colleagues not to campaign against him or raise money against him.

 An incumbent wants to ensure that notable opposition can not criticize him on the hustings because of a supposed pledge of bipartisan cooperation.  How convenient! No wonder pundits and comedians are so critical of anything labeled bipartisan

Radio commentator Larry O'Connor surmises that Manchin is trying to obscure the fact that he votes with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) regarding the tax reform. Manchin also campaigned hard for Hillary Clinton in 2016, which proved quite out of step with his West Virginia constituents.  

The Republican National Committee used Twitter to expose Senator Manchin's Janus faced campaigning, as the supposed maverick conservative Democrat posed with both Planned Parenthood as well as Pro Life activists.  

Manchin laughed off this apparent hypocrisy saying that he'd pose for pictures with anyone.  Larry O'Connor laments that this was one more victory for the swamp co-opting a maverick.  

 It may be better to think of this as  sort of a pyrrhic victory which salts the swamp and causes the District of Calamity to be drained of unviable swamp creatures and Congress critters.

Frederick Douglass on Freedom of Speech

Frederick Douglass on Freedom of Speech

Monday, February 12, 2018

Charles Darwin on Open Mindedness

Charles Darwin on Keeping an Open Mind

Abraham Lincoln on Freedom

Abraham Lincoln

The nose of this bronze bust of Lincoln is discolored by so many visitors rubbing it. 

If you plan to visit Lincoln's tomb in Springfield, Illinois, do not expect to have an engaging encounter à la Night at the Museum.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

NBC Shame Faced for Parade of Ignorance Displayed During Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

The 23rd Winter Olympiad in Pyeongchang, South Korea had a reoccurring theme of Peace, as was evident from the Opening Ceremonies.  It was well known that athletes from North and South Korea would march as a unified team into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.  

One of the draws for casual sports fans to watch the Olympics is the Opening Ceremonies. The pageantry of the Opening Ceremonies, as expressed through artistic expression as well as thematic choice sets the mood for the Olympic Games.  Afterwards, there is the Parade of Nations, when all of the competitors gather in a gesture of unity and good will.  During this long march of nations, television viewers often have to endure commentary from NBC announcers to add color and context to the visuals.  Often this dialogue is pap or seems scripted.

However, when the Japanese team made their debut at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, NBC Asia correspondent Joshua Cooper Ramos offered an incredible generalization.  Ramos claimed that Koreans looked with admiration to Japan as an important example of cultural, economic and technological transformation.

Several hours after uttering this insensitive and insulting insinuation, NBC Sports issued a hasty apology.

NBC offeres shame faced apology for Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony insulting commentary

NBC paid $967 million for broadcast rights for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and it would seem that they did not want to insult their hosts.

With that in mind, one wonders why NBC keeps pushing North Korean propaganda while covering the Winter Olympics.  No doubt that a unified Korean team marching during the Parade of Nations was a big story.  It epitomizes the international aspiration of brotherhood and exemplifies the Pyeongchang Game's theme of Peace.  

[Front Center] Vice President Mike Pence [Back Center] Kim Yo Jung, sister of DPRK dictator Kim Jun Un
It is understandable that an Olympic broadcaster would want to capitalize on controversy by showing how close Vice President Mike Pence was seated to North Korean Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong during the Opening Ceremonies.

The coverage of the North Korea cheerleaders during the womens' hockey game between Korea and Switzerland does raise eyebrows.  It was a cute featurette to have a piece about the some of the 200 woman squad of  the North Korean "Army of Beauty" cheerleaders leading chants during the 0-8 rout of Korea.  Some say that the synchronized chants of the North Korea Beauty Cheerleaders stole the show. But what what telling is what they chanted and how they performed.  These NPDK cheerleaders chanted "Unity" waving "neutral" flags of a unified Korea. After each goal by their opponent, they chanted: "Cheer up!".  Perhaps that exemplifies a cultural trait.  

What has been shown but little explored are instances in which the female Beauty Squad use big heads of a Korean man.  Hmm.  Who could this be?  

It is dubious that it was an everyman Korean.  The Big Head looks rather like an idealized image of North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un. What does it say about the consequences of  "Unity".  Is that something that all Koreans also believe?

UPDATE 02/12/2018  BBC News quotes Korean media that the DPRK Army of Beauties cheerleaders were holding up big heads of Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (the first of the Hermit Kingdom's Juche post World War II dictators).  Yet the South Korean Unification Ministry insists that the cheerleaders were just holding up cut outs of "a good looking man". 

Carl Reiner on Snow

Carl Reiner on snow

Friday, February 9, 2018

Being At Peace With Different Measures of Glory

Athletes from Unified North & South Korean Team at Winter Olympics
The 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are themed to be the games of peace.  This was accentuated by athletes of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) marching with their Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) counterparts under a unified flag.

Olympic Athletes from Russia for 2018 Winter Olympics 
Due the doping ban on Russian Federation, the 169 clean Russian athletes marched as neutrals in red and grey uniforms as neutrals.  Any gold medal winning "Olympic Athletes of Russia"  will be feted with the raising of the Olympic flag and anthem. 

While the  2,952 athletes participating in the Pyeongchang games are the best winter sport athletes in the world, but only a few make it up to the medal stand to receive their glory. For most, marching in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony is the highlight of their careers. 

This makes Eric Liddell's admonition about glory all the more poignant. 

Eric Liddell on Glory

What is particularly noteworthy of Eric Liddell is not that he was the the Flying Scotsman was the first  British Gold Medal winner in track from 1924, or that he was the basis of the film Chariots of Fire (1981), or his steadfast Sabbath keeping, but for dying as a missionary in a Japanese internment camp in China in 1945. 

We should all be inspired to run a good race in life and doing our best.

President Donald Trump on Faith and American Life

President Donald Trump on Faith and American Life at National Prayer Breakfast

President Donald Trump spoke at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast, during which he bolstered lofty rhetoric about faith and American life by pairing it with contemporary examples of how we can be heroes to everybody. 

Dave Barry on Winter Sports

Dave Barry's humorous take on winter sports for Winter Olympics

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Peoplekind, eh?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Prefers the Politically Correct Euphamism Peoplekind
During a townhall meeting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interrupted a constituent pleading for religious liberty to serve underprivileged Canadians to ensure that politically correct language was used. 

Helping mankind was considered to be a micro-aggression, so Prime Minister Trudeau offered that "Peoplekind" was preferred politically correct speak. Really? Not even humankind?  Does that include canines, as dogs are people too (sic).  How about corporations?  Well, our neighbors in the Great White North have determined that the free speech in the Charter of Rights can overridden, especially for corporations, where the need can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Then again, Canadians have a reputation for priggishly protecting minority rights, as was humorously parodied in Michael Moore's  romp Canadian Bacon (1995).

Post Scriptus 02/07/2018 -  Several days after the "Peoplekind" comment went viral on social media, The UK Daily Mail reports Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was just kidding about the comment.  Sure, he did...check the videotape--NOT! It seems that he'll use the excuse of allegedly making a dumb joke than being considered dumb during a tour in the United States.

The problem with Trudeau's apologia is that his humor relies on a  is a reductio ad absurdum.  If we are to respect minority rights, should an over-exaggeration be a laughing matter? 

Luis Gutierrez on Democrats' Priorities

Luis Gutierrez on Democrats' Priorities on Same-Sex Marriage and Immigration

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL 4th) allegedly was so incensed that Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) is willing to de-link DACA from budget negotiations that he has threatened to walk out of the Democrat Caucus.  Mainstream media pundits presume that Republicans will have trouble retaining control of Congress because of disgruntled members exposing fractures in party unity.   Gutierrez's threat indicates that trouble in getting out the vote and maintaining party unity also is applicable for Democrats. 

Wags wonder if this threat is as believable as Gutierrez excuse for walking out of President Trump's State of the Union to be positioned for post SOTU standups rather than reacting to the chamber resounding in chants of "USA". 

Thomas Sowell on Equality, Politics and Race

Thomas Sowell on Equality Politics and Race